Self-sabotage: How to stop it & soar to success by Martha Baldwin - Summary

This was one of the more difficult books for me to read. I postponed it several times until I finally finished it. Looking at myself, I can see lots of parallels to my own upbringing.

My guess is, if you clicked on the title of this post, you are in the same or similar boat as me. I doubt that the notes below will you give you enough insights into the book or even help you overcome all your problems. So, I highly recommend you read the book for yourself and profit from the numerous examples and cases Mrs. Baldwin used to elaborate on the different personality disorders and become aware of your own situation.


Nurturing you inner child

  • means that you love, acknowledge and accept your inner child while thinking clearly, positively and constructively

  • a “hurt inner child” can be hidden behind by:

    • a macho facade
    • a superwoman
    • blaming stance with others
    • alcohol, drugs, overworking, sexual promiscuity
    • phobias
    • rescuing other people and controlling their lives
    • confusion/helplessness
    • controlling behavior

The saboteur and its undercover mission

  • the saboteur is a remnant of our childhood expressing the relationship between our parents and us. it tries to undermine our successes because of expressions like “We sacrificed everything for you” and the likes. As such, inner guilt feelings arise and prohibit success beyond the success of our parents.

  • only by knowing the saboteur intimately and how it operates can we thwart its influence.

The saboteur: a profile

  • energy source: feelings of isolation, abandonment, fear, sorrow, hurt and anger

  • methods of operation: cynical, fearful, critical and worrying thoughts that try to decrease you self-confidence

  • traits: fast learner who takes positives ideas and gives them a self-defeating twist

  • starts as soon as you become too successful

Seeing your saboteur

  • messages like:
    • “If I hadn’t gotten pregnant with you, your father and I wouldn’t have had to get married.”
    • “We didn’t really want a third child. I almost got an abortion.”
    • “If it weren’t for you I would have…”
    • “Your mother almost died when you were born. You tore up her body.”

are detrimental to a child. They cause feelings of guilt and of being unloved. As a result perfectionists or real troublemakers arise.

Repressed anger: the tiger in your saboteur’s tank

  • expressed through:
    • being late
    • forgetting
    • losing things
    • withdrawing from relationships
    • being irritating to other people
    • whining
    • feeling depressed
    • overeating
    • closing down sexually
    • pouting
    • refusing to communicate
  • vicious cycle: repression > explosion > remorse > guilt > repression

Frequently what angers you with others reflects something you fear and fail to acknowledge in yourself.

Lessons on anger: your education for personal power

  • the attitude your parents displayed during your childhood is crucial to your own behavior towards anger.

  • expressions of badly handled and repressed anger during teenage years:

    • temper outbursts
    • alcohol and drugs
    • sexual acting out
    • failure in school
    • perfectionistic behavior
    • overeating
    • overachieving
    • depression
    • suicide
    • pouting
    • passive refusal to act
    • stomachaches
    • headaches
    • hyperactivity
    • allergies
    • illegal activities

Anger and intimacy

If you ignore anger, bury it, and pretend you have no conflict, you build a wall that begins to separate you from each other [your mate].

  • caused by fear of anger and conflict

  • learn to express your feelings towards your mate at the very occasion they arise without blaming or labelling or controlling your mate.

Centering yourself

  • be aware of the state of your mind at all times. if you feel that something is off, try to center yourself at once.

  • usa a imagination technique for centering yourself. similar to meditating and by incorporating visualization techniques.

  • affirm to yourself: “I am centered and grounded in unconditional love.”

Unconditional love

  • unconditional love means being not judgemental, comparative or having to justify/rationalize everything.

  • don’t discount yourself

  • allow other people to live their lives as they please

Fear: the saboteur’s delight

  • fear causes:
    • doubt
    • abuse
    • destructive behavior
    • violence
  • fear begets fear by producing more and more negative thinking

Fear teaches you to expect the worst possible outcome in any circumstance, to doubt other people and to doubt yourself.

  • Fear allows your impulses to take control.

  • Fear lets you project into the future or relive the past. It is an indicator that you have lost balance in the present moment and should center yourself again.

Harnessing your powerful parts

  • be aware of your different sub-personalities

  • be conscious about thoughts about fear to disarm them

  • you don’t want to change them, just be aware of them. This allows you to center yourself and be in the moment.

Missing parts

  • People who seems to be strong and always in control could suppress their vulnerable personality parts which manifest in sickness and other side effects in other parts of the person’s life.
  • Know yourself completely to accept to being able to accept your less beautiful personality traits and thereby lessen the effects.

Centering and physical health

Your physical body reflects the harmony and disharmony that exists within the orchestra of your subpersonalities.

  • Accept them to be healthier.

  • Illness signals that we sabotage ourself and have to listen to this warning signs.

Centered thinking

  • Choose how you think as this influences your psyche and your body. Think positively.

  • Affirm to yourself desires which aren’t yet true but state them as if they were.

  • The following statements are detrimental to a child and its future:

    • “Don’t get your hopes up. You’ll just be disappointed.”
    • “Hope for the best, but expect the worst.”

[…] through your beliefs and your thoughts you create your own reality.

  • There are 5 levels of vibration:
    • The divine
    • The intuitional
    • The mental
    • The emotional
    • The physical
  • The levels above one another influence the levels beneath them where the divine is the highest and the physical the lowest.

You can heal your mind through meditation and unconditional love.

  • Affirmations are more powerful if they are spoken out aloud or written down.

Food, weight and limits

  • Children get fed as soon as they start to cry by their mothers. This teaches children, if even they aren’t hungry and actually have an emotional problem, that they should cope with it by eating food instead of receiving comfort from their mothers. The mother is afraid of emotions and teaches the same fear to her children.

Emotional hunger becomes a signal to eat.

  • It’s better to have a cleansing cry than to eat to distract yourself from your emotions.

Time, money and boundaries

A mental attitude of abundance transforms a miserly, self-defeating existence to a rich experience of the flow of giving and receiving the wealth of resources that are available to each of us.

  • As it is said in the bible, give 10% (tithe) away. As a result, the universe will reward you in its abundance as well.

  • You can be prosperous even if the economy struggles. You are the creator of your own prosperity. Fear inhibits your creativity and this in turn your results. Therefore, watch out that you don’t get trap in fear as well.

It’s all a matter of claiming our enormous creative powers and trusting ourselves to follow the guidance we receive and the opportunities that open for us.

Keeping boundaries and setting limits

  • Please read this chapter yourself to understand the different personality types within you.

  • Setting boundaries assists you in living a healthy live and experience good relationships with your other selfs and with other people.

  • Boundaries help you being yourself. Saying “NO” is essential to set boundaries between you and others and your different personalities.

  • If you don’t have your own saboteur under control and are open to others, you allow other people to be a saboteur to you without even noticing it.

Nurturing yourself to success means learning how to keep boundaries and set limits effectively.

Boundary keeping in relationships

  • If you have relationships with no boundaries, they are marked with fear, anger, resentment and guilt.

  • In marriages where the “Parent” and “Adult” personality of one person cares for the spouse’s “Child” personality and vice-versa, it is often the case that there is a poor non-existent sexual relationship. Each one of them, is neglecting their own “Child” personality and thus inhibits the whole marriage.

Boundary keeping with mates

  • Communication is essential.

  • Tell your partner where your boundaries are and what you value as soon as one is violated.

  • Ideally, both partners adapt their behavior to suit the boundaries of the other.

Limit setting with children

  • dysfunctional family systems tend to repeat themselves without adequate education from one generation to the next generation

  • parents are afraid of 2 things:
    • autonomy, freedom and separateness of their children
    • anger and possible rejection from their children
  • parents’ goal should be to prepare children for a life outside of the family and for them to be self-sufficient adults.

  • children also want to be self-sufficient and want to be taught by their parents.

  • try to have a consistent daily schedule for breakfast, dinner, bed time etc.

When children break rules they are not “bad”. They are exploring and testing to find out how their world works and where their limits are.

Limit setting vs controlling

Control by other people is an illusion born of this pattern of disowning (or projecting) personal responsibility and power.

  • Other people can’t control us anymore than we can control them.

Limit setting with parents

Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself. They come through you but not from you, and though they are with you yet they belong not to you … You may house their bodies but not their souls … You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.

– The prophet by Gibran

The loving art

  • If you don’t set appropriate limits with other people, it will drain your energy.

  • The fact that you were able to face your fears as a result of your saboteur shows that you have courage. Combining courage with love allows you to win and transform your saboteur.

Stopping self-sabotage

  • Be aware of the saboteur in you trying to manipulate you with fearful thinking. Transform it into positive thinking and use its power to your advantage.

  • Behaviors of a self-saboteur:
    • looking to others for “help” and let them take on your responsibilities by manipulating them.
    • ignoring your own financial, physical, emotional and mental limits causes exhaustion in the various parts.
    • does not respect boundaries between yourself and others.
    • people who talk as if they are masters of positive thinking while neglecting the realities of available resources and still expecting to succeed. No amount of positive thinking can overcome the required amounts of actions required to succeed.
    • they behave as if they already succeeded by making bad financial decisions prematurely.
    • periods of despondency and depression are common between periods of positive thinking.
    • they are very likely extremely bright people who are able to talk themselves out of any situation. They never experienced limits and feel like someone else is responsible as soon as things turn south.
    • they try to take care of others and expect love in exchange. often they overextend themselves in the process.
    • they don’t like winning by the rules. they like to take on risks and as soon as they succeed their destructive behavior takes everything away again.
    • they have difficulties letting go of past relationships, strategies etc. and finish very little. they look busy by juggling numerous projects but none are successful.
  • Successful people are the opposite of saboteurs and exhibit these points too:
    • they are good communicators and make adjustments to changing circumstances and remain flexible enough to shifts in the economy and community.
    • harness their intellect and talents constructively to their advantage.
    • they are aware of their choices and don’t blame others.
    • they encourage others to be self-sufficient and successful.
    • they know that success requires self-discipline, productive activity, risk taking and personal commitment.
    • they transform the internal saboteur’s energy into a positive power.

Beyond your boundaries

When you master your boundaries, you feel safe with yourself, safe enough to step out into the world and take full responsibility for the strengths and resources you possess.

You are able to fend yourself, provide your own need, and give yourself adequate protection.

  • Choosing fear instead of love sets of negative reactions throughout your physical body.

You are the author of the reality you create.

Transforming the saboteur

  • Martha Baldwin lists some of her own saboteur’s thoughts while writing this very book:
    • “No one will enjoy reading this. It isn’t good enough.”
    • “Your examples aren’t very interesting. You should have used dialogues.”

You life is your very own magnificent creation. Be the artist you are!

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The mind agrees.